Former Ex-Gays Speak Out & Continue to Organize

There has been lots of ex-gay related news the past few weeks.

  • A wave of news stories both in the US and UK gay and mainstream news centered around Bryce Faulkner.  It’s been well over a week since anything has been published about this story.  We all hope Bryce is well wherever he may be right now.
  • We have also heard stories of gay exorcisms in the US and in England.
  • The APA released their findings after spending two years looking at gay reparative therapy and concluded that it does not work and should not be attempted because it can likely cause harm.
  • And last week, amidst reports of financial difficulties, Focus on the Family announced they will no longer host Love Won Out, a conference that targets parents of queer and questioning youth and ministers who work with youth, and has handed it over to Exodus to run instead.

Phew! That’s a lot of news to digest. As an ex-gay survivor, I have been especially interested in the many ex-gay survivors, particularly folks in their 20’s, who have been telling their stories on-line and in the media.

In an article for Edge, Great Lakes Regional Editor Joseph Erbentraut interviewed ex-gay survivors Jacob Wilson (age 23, Iowa), Vincent Cervantes (age 22, California),  and Daniel Gonzales (age 29, Colorado).

Gonzales ultimately abandoned the teachings as he independently realized that his homosexuality was “neither something that needed to or could be changed.” He, as well as Cervantes and Wilson, now participate in a group called Beyond Ex-Gay, a network of ex-gay survivors who share their testimonials with hopes it will dissuade others from seeking harmful therapy.

“These programs are everywhere and so few people know they exist,” Wilson said.” For us to come together and be one voice saying that these ex-gay programs do more harm that good, telling people that you’re OK being gay and OK the way you are, I believe saves lives.”

Read the whole article here. Vince Cervantes has also announced that he will appear on the Tyra Banks Show in a program that will look at ex-gay treatment and particularly the awful world of gay exorcisms.

Some of you may remember the name of another ex-gay survivor, James Stabile, who dramatically got caught up into the ex-gay world with a fanfare of Christian media grandstanding his “conversion.”  Stabile eventually sorted himself out and shared his story of how he fell prey to anti-gay religious teachings. Now at peace with his gay orientation and his faith, he recently announced that he has started Love Actually,  a local support group in Dallas, TX for others who have been through ex-gay ministries and treatment.

“I thought, there has to be a place you can go if you have been in straight camp,” he says. “Somewhere you can be brought back into who you are and feel loved.”

It was an experience he really needed because, although Stabile identifies as gay, he says he felt like he didn’t quite fit in with the community after his experiences in reparative therapy, and after announcing he was straight on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club.”

“I didn’t feel like I fit in the gay community, but I was not straight,” he said.
He says he found an online home at  BeyondExGay.com, where he first started to realize he was not alone, that there are many others like him who’ve been through the same process and “came out gay all over.”

“Love Actually is a place people can come to and know they are not alone, they are loved and loved by God,” Stabile says.

Read the whole article over at Dallas Voice.

Christine Bakke and I founded Beyond Ex-Gay in April 2007.  In addition to adding over 100 pages of content to the site we have  helped to organize gatherings for ex-gay survivors in Irvine, CA, Nashville, TN, Denver, CO, Memphis, TN and Barcelona, Catalonia. We are connecting with hundreds of ex-gay survivors in North America, Europe and beyond. Some of these feel it is important to publicly share their stories to serve as a witness of what they encountered and as a warning to others who are considering gay reparative therapy or ex-gay ministry for themselves or a loved one.  In so doing they are helping to reshape public discourse about these treatments and ministries.

If you have not done so yet, check out this Brian Murphy’s film about the first Ex-Gay Survivor conference which was sponsored by Beyond Ex-Gay and Soulforce:

The role of the Internet has helped tremendously in connecting ex-gay survivors with each other an in organizing our events and actions. I recently wrote in article for the Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide about the power of the web in regards to former consumers of ex-gay treatments and therapies (See ‘Ex-gay’ survivors go on-line.) In addition to our website, Beyond Ex-Gay has a Facebook group with over 400 members in it, most of whom are ex-gay survivors. Over 500 people have contacted us directly through our website, some still in ex-gay programs looking for answers and honest information.

Over the past six months Christine has made a special focus to create the Beyond Ex-Gay Community, an on-line social networking site specifically for survivors to connect with each other about their ex-gay experiences and their recovery from them. No doubt you will hear more about this effort over the next few months.

The next ex-gay survivor gathering will be November 20, 2009 in West Palm Beach, FL. Beyond Ex-Gay will organize the gathering as a pre-conference event leading up to the Anti-Heterosexism Conference, an event sponsored by Soul Force, The National Black Justice Coalition, Truth Wins Out, Box Turtle Bulletin and Equality Florida. This same weekend NARTH, an organization that claims that something is wrong with LGBT people and that they must be fixed through therapy, will hold their annual conference also in West Palm Springs. Last year several of us ex-gay survivors along with allies gathered in front of the NARTH conference held in Denver, CO as public witnesses to the potential harm that comes from gay reparative therapy.

I am especially pleased with the Anti-Heterosexism theme that Soulforce and the rest of the organizers have chosen for the pro-LGBTQ conference. In the discussions about gay reparative therapy so much of the focus gets stuck on religion. We have some who seem to think that the conflict facing a person of faith who is also attracted to the same gender is primarily and exclusively a religious conflict.   They maintain a stunning oversight of the vast heterosexist infrastructure that exists in practically every level of society–religious as well as secular exerting daily pressure on LGBT people to straighten up and be gender normative.

The belief that fuels much of the desire to go straight is that heterosexuals are more valuable than gays or lesbians or bisexuals. Heterosexuality is still presented as the idealized norm through virtually every institution, film, pop song, government policy and print or TV ads. In its simplest terms the message pumped out day after day is that Straight is Great! and anything else is “less than,” suspect, evil. No sexual orientation is superior to another. Being honest about who you are and your orientation and gender identity is great and worthy of support. It is also worthy of representation in the media, religious institutions, and public policy.

It is thrilling to see all of this organizing and speaking out by ex-gay survivors and allies. The power of personal testimony brings healing and it brings change. At one time when someone mentioned ex-gay therapy, the average person would say, “Oh, that’s crazy; it’ll never work. How silly.” More and more people have begun to realize that not only does ex-gay therapy not work, it is completely unnecessary and most likely is dangerous to pursue. Dozens of ex-gay survivors have told their stories on-line through videos, news stories and more. I have a feeling many more will step up to share their stories–why they went ex-gay/what the ex-gay world looked like for them/what good, if any, they encountered/ and what costs (emotional, spiritual, financial, etc) they incurred.

This post has 8 Comments

  1. p2son on August 19, 2009 at 9:52 am Reply

    Hi Sheria, thanks so much for continually coming back to the blog and sharing your comments. Back in December 2006 I began to write about the plight of the straight wives of gay men. You can read a post here. I also have a similar article over at my Spanish blog. Since that time one of the straight spouses I got to know through the blog posts has begun her own blog. Check out Carol Boltz’s My heart goes out.

    • e2tc on August 24, 2009 at 9:38 pm Reply

      Your post on Carol Boltz was the 1st thing I saw (literally at the top of the page) when I found your Blogger blog last year. You had my attention from the get-go, because of that – and the link to her blog.

      I’m so glad to see you’ve taken Sheria’s suggestion and followed up on that post… everyone gets hurt when these lies are promulgated (and perpetuated).

      (Better get off my “alliterative” soapbox for now! ;)]

      • p2son on August 24, 2009 at 9:56 pm Reply

        You are very very attractive on your soapbox!
        Thank you for your insightful comments!

      • e2tc on August 24, 2009 at 10:37 pm Reply

        It’s a deal, Peterson! 😉

    • e2tc on August 24, 2009 at 10:10 pm Reply

      Why, thank you! [blushes] And you’ve kindly overlooked my typos, too… 😉

      • p2son on August 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm Reply

        Oh, you so kindly overlook my many typos 😛

        Next time just e-mail me and I can edit the typos for you 😀

  2. Sheria in SA on August 19, 2009 at 10:08 am Reply

    Hey Peterson, yeah I actually got to read of Carol Boltz through your blog. Its thoughtful of you to continually think of ex wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings etc who may never get it-i is very important, thanks for your reply…

  3. Sheria in SA on August 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm Reply

    Hi Peterson, I take great interest in reading your blog, mainly because you are my ex collegue, I am a journalist and also, because I wanted to REALLY understand the world of homosexuality. Travelling along with you on your blog gives me the opportunity to see how passionate you really are about sending out the message that, change for people who are gay is not possible. You also want to echoe your understanding to people out there that reparative therapy is harmful. What is my point? My point is, You talk A LOT about the struggles of gay people (nothing wrong); yet you are not as passionate to blog about the people who are left with anger, frustration, pain, disappointment etc. People who may never get into relationships again because they now think everyone is gay. What about ex wives, husbands, parents, siblings etc, who may never understand that their child, their ex husband, their brother says he is now gay. Sorry, am not posting a “blog post on your blog”, am making a valid request and my request to you is that you reach out to women and men out there who feel they were “betrayed” because their spouse says they are gay. To you, you are just being your authentic self, but to them, they don’t get it…I have visited your archives, from when you started blogging and I think you have posted something to this effect maybe once, or twice under “what about the parents?” correct me.
    Peterson, you have a wonderful gift of communication…I know that, I saw that and you can reach out to these hurting people who “don’t get it…” The internet is such a valuable means of reaching the masses. These men, families and ex spouses need you! All the best…

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